A bill making its way through the Iowa Legislature would prevent cities and counties from enacting ordinances that would forbid the planting of genetically-modified seed. Senator David Johnson, a republican from Ocheyedan, says 12 other states have such a law on the books. A year ago, voters in a county in California passed a referendum prohibiting any genetically-altered plants or animals in the county. Johnson says G-M-O seeds are not something to be feared. Johnson says the amount of pesticides used in Iowa has been reduced by seven-point-four million pounds annually because of the use of seeds engineered to resist pests. Eileen Dannemann, director of the National Coalition of Organized Women, lives in Fairfield and she was at the statehouse all day yesterday to lobby against the bill. Dannemann says companies like Monsanto are developing seeds that “terminate and sterilize the entire procreative nature of the planet.” She says it’s a “national security risk” to put such faith in genetically-modified seeds, because in case the technology collapses, there isn’t enough organically-grown food to meet demand. Senator Tom Hancock, a democrat from Epworth, voted against the bill because he says it takes authority away from local officials. “A red flag has gone up when it comes to local control in my mind,” Hancock says. Senator Tom Rielly, a democrat from Oskaloosa and a former mayor, supported the bill. “While I’m concerned about local control issues…I think this is an issue that we are going to have to face,” Rielly says. “I also don’t want to stand in the way of progress.” Susan Judkins, a spokeswoman for the Iowa League of Cities, says cities are relieved legislators made some changes in the bill to make sure it only applies to seeds. “We do want to make sure communities retain the ability to remain organic communities, for example, such as Vedic City is today,” Judkins says. Vedic City has a list of organic foods that may be sold within city limits; other foods grown with pesticides or other biotech advancements are forbidden. The bill cleared the Senate Ag Committee Tuesday morning and the House Ag Committee late last night. A public hearing was held at the statehouse early Tuesday morning on the bill.
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